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December 9, 2009 > Newark Ironman wrestling event showcases regional talent

Newark Ironman wrestling event showcases regional talent

By Gary van den Heuvel
Photos By Mike Heightchew

High school wrestling season began in earnest at the 21st Annual Newark Rotary Ironman Duals, which were held on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 4-5, at Newark Memorial High School.

The nine-school, round-robin tournament included two Mission Valley Athletic League (MVAL) representatives - Mission San Jose High School and host Newark Memorial - as well as Milpitas, College Park, Firebaugh, Fremont of Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Marin Catholic and Saint Francis high schools.

St. Francis dominated the team competition, winning the title with an 8-0 record. Fremont was the runner-up with a record of 7-1, their lone defeat coming at the hands of St. Francis in the sixth round of the tournament on Saturday.

Mission, who finished third with a 5-3 mark, and Newark Memorial, who finished 4-4 (tied with three other schools for fourth place), were well represented in the individual ranks. Two Mission wrestlers and one Newark wrestler took first place in their weight classes.

Sophomore Corbin Lee from Mission San Jose was the winner in the 103-pound weight class. Lee, who also plays football, has been wrestling for only two years, and he likes the individual nature of the sport. "You can only blame yourself if you lose," said Lee.

Mission junior Wei Kuo, who's been wrestling for four years, won the 125-pound division. Kuo got into the sport through his friends, and he enjoys the camaraderie which competing in wrestling produces.

"You share the victory with your teammates and friends, you get to meet a lot of different wrestlers," said Kuo, who also competes in cross-country running. "The best part of wrestling is it's not just for short people, or tall people - it's for everyone. With the different weight divisions, anyone can wrestle."

Newark Memorial's individual champion was no surprise to anyone who follows MVAL wrestling: Victor Pereira, who last year won the 136-pound division as a freshman, this year went undefeated in the 152-pound class. Newark assistant coach Michael Gordon lauded Pereira's strong work ethic. "He does a lot of off-season wrestling," Gordon said.

Gordon described this season as "a building year" for the Cougars team, who are coached by Tim Hess.

"We've got a young team, so we're learning," said Gordon. "There are a lot of things that we need to work on, and that's what this tournament is for."

Despite Newark's youth, Gordon has high expectations for the Cougars. "We hope to be there in the top two [of the MVAL]," he said. Gordon expects Mission to be a formidable opponent: "It's always a good match-up with Mission. This year will be tough."

Three Mission grapplers finished second in the individuals: Michael Lee (152 pounds), Elliot Espinoza (189) and David Kim (215). Mission's Leo Yang (135 pounds) and David Wilson (145) took the third-place medal in their divisions. Newark Memorial's Jason Tehpkaisone (103) and Milpitas's Michael Nguyen (112) also finished third.

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